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Archived: Environmental Laws Legal Cases

Since its creation in 1977, MSLF has been one of the Nation's leading legal centers fighting environmental overkill and the use of so-called environmental statutes to achieve other public policy objectives. MSLF believes, not only in a sensible, science-based balance between environmental goals and economic growth, but in making people part of the environmental equation. MSLF has achieved a number of important legal precedents in its 25 year fight for reasonable environmental policy.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association v. City of Longmont

Legal Question:

Whether municipalities in Colorado should have the authority to temporarily or permanently prohibit oil and gas extraction and related activities?

Plaintiffs:

Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

Defendant:

City of Longmont

Amicus Curiae:

Mountain States Legal Foundation

Court:

Colorado Supreme Court
Unknown
In November 2012, the City of Longmont, Colorado, passed an amendment to the city charter, by way of ballot initiative, which amended the city charter to ban hydraulic fracturing and the storage or disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste within the City of Longmont.  Also in 2012, voters in the City of Lafayette, Colorado, approved an amendment to their city charter, prohibiting corporations or persons acting through corporations from extracting oil and gas.  The City of Lafayette’s charter amendment also prohibited all related oil and gas activities, but active wells producing at the time that the charter amendment was enacted were allowed to continue to produce.  In November 2013, the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, passed and enacted a citizen-initiated ballot measure placing a five-year moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing and the storage of fracturing waste within the City of Fort Collins.


The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) challenged each of these measures.  In COGA’s suit against the City of Longmont, the courts joined the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission) as a necessary party.  In each of these three actions, the district courts granted plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment, finding that the municipalities were preempted from prohibiting oil and gas extraction and/or hydraulic fracturing within their boundaries.  The law in Colorado is settled:  the Oil and Gas Conservation Act preempts local land use regulation of oil and gas activity that is inconsistent with the Act.  On March 5, 2015, MSLF filed a friend of the court brief in support of COGA with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

On August 17, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals certified the issues before it to the Colorado Supreme Court.  The Court of Appeals asserted that the Colorado Supreme Court should decide the issues because the subject matter of the appeal has significant public interest and because the case involves legal principles of major significance. On September 21, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court granted the Court of Appeals' request for certification.  On December 9, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court heard oral argument.

On May 2, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an opinion upholding the lower court's decision and, consistent with the brief filed by MSLF, ruling expressly that Longmont's hydraulic fracturing ban is preempted by Colorado's Oil and Gas Act.

No Status Updates
  • Western Group Welcomes Colorado Supreme Court Energy Ruling

    May 2, 2016
    A western nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation involved across the country in challenging attempts by state and local governments to prohibit the use of private property to develop energy supplies today welcomed a unanimous ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court upholding the ruling of a Colorado state district court striking a similar ban in Longmont, Colorado.
  • Western Group Asks Colorado Court of Appeals to Permit Energy Use

    Mar 12, 2015
    A western nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation involved across the country in challenging attempts by state and local governments to prohibit the use of private property to develop energy supplies today urged the Colorado Court of Appeals to uphold the ruling of a Colorado state district court striking a similar ban in Longmont, Colorado.


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